A new front bumper arrives today I wasn't in a hurry to get one at this point in the game, but a deal too good to pass up presented itself so I jumped.
The initial buying of random crap is coming to a close. I need to focus on saving for priories now. The plan of attack (more or less in order of priority):
- Engine/trans, t-case, diff & LCA skids
- Inner/outer fenders, 4.5bs wheels & skinny 35s
- Snorkel & drop-in
- Reverse lights, license plate relo & rear bumper
- Trail doors & mirrors
- Roof rack
Later down the line (post-warranty or closer to it):
2.5" long travel suspension
2nd battery delete
This arrived last night and I was hoping to put it on, but it's unfortunately going to be a two-man job for sure since there's no studs or anything on the frame caps whatsoever to hold the two recovery points and the outer shell on while you insert bolts from the front into threaded plates from the rear.
Bumper is on and already has some miles on it; looks derpy with stock tires and no winch sitting behind it, but such is life.
I've chosen my wheels, and am going to go with the Mammoth 4x4 Boulder 17x9s. With a 4.7" BS, -6mm offset and coming in at only 23lbs, they should be perfect. Plus, I love how they look.
I'm torn between Kenda R/T 35X10.50R17Ds and Nitto Trail Grappler M/T 35X11.50R17Cs. The Kendas are way cheaper, 5-6lbs lighter, run quieter and will likely fit better and return better gas mileage, but I've never heard of them. Nitto is a known quantity but far more aggressive. As ideal as it seems, an A/T with no treadwear warranty that none of my local tire shops sell worries me. I can go down to Discount and pick up a replacement Nitto any time. So, Nitto is in the lead but I really like the idea of a cheaper, lighter, skinnier 35 with better road manners.
ETA: I just "discovered" the Toyo Open Country ATIII Tire 35x11.50R17C - perhaps this is the compromise between the Kenda and Nitto I was looking for? It's roughly the same weight as the Nitto, but with a 50k treadwear warranty and nearly $100 less per tire.
I'm equally torn on the suspension. I've been looking at the following in the 2.5-3" range:
- JKS J-Konnect with HD springs and Fox monotubes
- Metalcloak long travel mid-arm with their "RockSport" twin tubes
- Rock Krawler Flex System with their twin tubes
- TeraFlex Sport ST2 with Falcon SP2 2.1 monotubes
The JKS kit is the only one that appears to have non-adjustable bump stops but it is the only one at this price point to include front & rear LCAs. I've heard great things about their Quicker Disconnects, and overall the kit looks great. I dig the tuned Fox shocks that come with it, but doubt it will flex as well as the Metalcloak. It looks, at face value, that their coils are only dual rate in the front. I imagine this would probably have the best cross-country and on-road handling characteristics of all the kits I'm seriously considering, but have the least suspension travel. But, I am still learning.
The Metalcloak is several hundred more than the others but is the only one to include a front driveshaft and outboard shock relocation brackets. One thing I'm highly confused about is that it includes front UCAs and no LCAs - everyone else includes front or both front & rear LCAs and no UCAs... I don't know enough about these suspensions to determine what to make of that. It's an odd seeming departure from everything else I've looked at. I assume this is probably the flexiest kit I'm looking at by far.
Rock Krawler is the only one to include front and rear spring pads which seems like a no-brainer to an ex-Toyota guy. On the other hand, they use a hokey strap for the disconnects rather than a bracket like everyone else and don't include front and rear bump stops in the kit's description... although, the picture appears to depict them. The kit comes with twin tube shocks and no rear LCAs. They advertise triple rate coils which sounds gimmicky to me, but again - I'm a Jeep noob. Otherwise, it looks good and presumably falls somewhere in between the JKS and Metalcloak kit in terms of flex, probably closer to Metalcloak just by looking at the lengths of those coils.
I've nearly ruled out the TeraFlex kit. They would be the only one on my list to include progressive bump stops, but they'd also be the only ones with a rear bracket instead of a new track bar, and the kit seems to be less comprehensive overall. Their Alpine kits look good, but I was amazed to see the price more than quadruple going from Sport to Alpine.
We took our first long-distance trip in the Jeep over Labor Day weekend and it did very well. We were comfortable for 5-6 hours with a few very short stops and it was pretty quiet even without a headliner. It was happy zipping along the interstate at 90+ with a slight tailwind, and gas mileage didn't suck as bad as I had feared despite being a literal brick with a racer behind the wheel. Headwinds limited us to around 75-80 at cruise with a full load of camping gear + two dogs, but it had plenty of passing power at all times.
I will be wanting to re-gear as soon as bigger rubber goes on, because even with the little 31" ATs it felt pretty flat in 8th, I frequently found myself going a couple miles at a time in 6th or 7th on moderate grades.
It also managed to survive the ridiculous streets and parking garages of San Diego and Oceanside unscathed, which is pretty remarkable. It was the first time I recall being utterly thankful for stock wheels, tires, suspension, and not having a roof rack - we were able to squeeze into "compact" parking while making car and minivan drivers alike jealous in some of the particularly dumb areas. A Chrysler Pacifica and a Dodge Charger both tried to park beside us at one point and both got high-centered and required help.
So I got really drunk and couldn't sleep last night... so I went shopping...
Five RockTrix RT111s
Five 35x10.50 Kenda R/Ts @CavFab_mfg Micro bumper @Diode Dynamics SS3 fog pods
Sealight LED headlight bulbs
Some spiffy cupholder inserts
A better mount for my UV5R
Three cans of Mopar touch up paint (??)
A Mopar jack base that I didn't even know existed
Rock Hard front and rear LCA skids
ARB license plate relocation kit
Paramount front and rear inner fender liners
And that's just what I can find emails for this morning
New headlight bulbs are in. I originally drunk-ordered Sealight H13s but the pair I received had oversized pins in the male connectors so they wouldn't plug in to the OEM headlight. I shopped around since and found these ones which I believe are called Firehawks and they plugged right in, but I was worried the fan and heatsink would prevent the rear seal from going back on. Luckily, they fit inside perfectly.